Scientists suggest venting worsens anger, while breathing calms rage

You might think venting or trauma dumping on a partner or friend is an excellent way to reduce anger, but a recent study has found that it might not be very helpful.

According to a recent study from researchers at Ohio State University, data of more than 10,000 participants from over 150 studies was analyzed to find the optimal way to reduce anger. 

Sifting through dozens of studies that aimed to learn more about anger and what exactly causes it and how humans manage it, researchers found that while venting may feel good, it "had no effect on anger" and even "made it worse" in some cases. 

Researchers considered studies that analyzed "anger-increasing activities" and hoped to hone in on what activities made people less heated.

"I think it’s really important to bust the myth that if you’re angry you should blow off steam – get it off your chest," Senior author Brad Bushman, professor of communication at The Ohio State University said in a press release.

Researchers noted that venting doesn't help with anger because, after analyzing the data on the various participants, they found that it increases physiological arousal. 

"To reduce anger, it is better to engage in activities that decrease arousal levels," Bushman said. "Despite what popular wisdom may suggest, even going for a run is not an effective strategy because it increases arousal levels and ends up being counterproductive." 

Study authors say it's better to engage in activities like deep breathing, yoga or meditation that help quiet the mind and regulate the human body. 

One activity that researchers found made anger worse was jogging. 

The study concluded that "a more effective approach for managing anger is ‘turning down the heat’ or calming down by engaging in activities that decrease arousal." 

This is not the first research to suggest that venting is unhelpful for keeping anger at bay. 

In a previous 2001 study by Bushman, he suggested that "venting to reduce anger is like using gasoline to put out a fire."